Why Functional Fitness Is Important for Everyone

Even though most of us are spending the majority of our time at home, it’s still important to be physically active.

Functional fitness can be a good way to combat restlessness and keep your body moving.

What is functional fitness? It refers to exercise that helps you with everyday activities, like:

  • getting up off the floor
  • carrying heavy objects
  • putting something up on a shelf

By strengthening the muscles in the same way you would need to use them for certain tasks, it reduces your risk of injury and increases your quality of life.

You can go throughout your day without worrying about straining or pulling something.

According to fitness expert Brad Schoenfeld, functional fitness exists on a continuum.

In his view, almost all exercise can be functional depending on the context, because in reality, increasing strength will inherently help you become more functional in daily life.

While increasing your overall strength will help you move better, combining strength training with exercises that mirror the movements of daily activities can provide an even more effective training regimen.

It can also promote better:

  • balance
  • endurance
  • flexibility

And who doesn’t want that, right?

We’ve compiled 13 exercises below that’ll help improve functional fitness for adults of all ages. Complete five to six of these exercises three to four days per week for optimal results.

You can do them all safely from your home with minimal equipment.

1. Squat

Squatting is a similar movement to sitting in a chair, so it’s a must-include in any functional fitness routine.

Make sure you’re moving slow and controlled throughout the movement, and if you need more of a challenge, hold a light dumbbell in each hand. If you need to modify this movement, limit your range of motion so the depth of your squat works for your body.

Directions:

  1. Stand straight with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms down at your sides.
  2. Bend your knees and start to squat down, pushing back into your hips, almost as if you’re about to sit in a chair. Raise your arms up in front of you as you go.
  3. When your thighs are parallel to the ground, pause and push through your heels, extending your legs and returning to the starting position.
  4. Complete 2 sets of 15 reps.

2. Incline chest press

Being able to push yourself up off the ground or another surface is invaluable in terms of functional fitness, but pushups can be very challenging.

The incline chest press works the same muscles and may be friendlier for beginners.

Directions:

  1. Position the bench at a 45-degree angle. Hold one dumbbell in each hand and lean back onto the bench. Extend your arms straight up with the dumbbells above your head.
  2. Bend your arms, slowly dropping the weights toward your chest. When your upper arms are just pass parallel to the ground, push the dumbbells back up to the starting position, using your pectoral muscles to lead the movement.
  3. Complete 2 sets of 15 reps.

3. Plank

Getting into and holding the plank position requires mobility and balance, which is helpful for getting up off the floor. Plus, the exercise recruits so many muscles, so it’s great for building overall strength.

Directions:

  1. Start on all fours with your palms planted on the ground and your knees bent slightly further than 90 degrees.
  2. Push up from your hands and feet, extending your arms and legs, and keep your core tight. Your body should form a straight line from head to toe.
  3. Hold for as long as you can. Repeat for 2 sets.

4. Wall squat

If you need a bit more support than in a regular squat, perform one against a wall. This should take any lower back pain out of the equation.

Directions:

  1. Stand with your back against a wall and your feet a step out.
  2. Bend your legs, pressing your back into the wall and allowing yourself to slide down into a squat.
  3. When your thighs are parallel to the floor, push back up against the wall into the starting position.
  4. Repeat for 2 sets of 15 reps.

5. Step-downs

Similar to getting down off a high seat or descending a set of stairs, step-downs are a great way to help improve balance and stability.

Directions:

  1. Stand to the side of your bench or step with one foot on it and one foot on the ground.
  2. Pushing through the heel of the foot on the bench, step up to extend your leg fully, then slowly lower back down to start.
  3. Complete 2 sets of 15 reps on each side.

6. Row

A row is a similar movement to getting a heavy object out of your trunk. Targeting your back and arms will help you stay strong.

Directions:

  1. Attach your resistance band to an anchor slightly above your head. Sit in a chair, holding the handles so they’re taut.
  2. Pull your elbows down and back, pausing for one second, then releasing back to the start.
  3. Complete 2 sets of 15 reps.

7. Stationary lunge

In this split stance, you’ll again mimic the movement of getting up off the ground. Strengthening your quadriceps, as well as promoting mobility in your knee joints, is crucial for doing daily activities.

Directions:

  1. Split your stance, so your legs form a triangle with the ground.
  2. Not moving your feet, lunge forward on your leading leg. When your leg forms a 90-degree angle with the ground, return to start.
  3. Repeat 2 sets of 15 reps on each side.

8. Step-up

Strengthen the muscles used to climb stairs with step-ups.

Directions:

  1. Stand with a bench or step in front of you — about one step away is good.
  2. Step up onto the bench with your right foot, only tapping your left foot to the surface while keeping your weight in your right foot.
  3. Step your left foot back down to the floor while keeping your right foot on the bench.
  4. Complete 2 sets of 15 on each leg.

9. Single-leg lift

Improving your balance makes everything easier, even walking. It also helps prevent falls.

Exercises that work one leg at a time force you to engage your core and work each side of your body separately.

Directions:

  1. Stand with your feet together and your hands on your hips.
  2. With your weight in your left leg, hinge slightly forward at the hips while slowly raising your right leg straight back until it reaches a 45-degree angle.
  3. Return to start. Repeat for 2 sets of 15 reps with your right leg, then switch.

10. Side plank

Strengthening all parts of your core is key for functional fitness. Try a side plank to hit the obliques.

Directions:

  1. Start on your side, legs stacked on top of each other, arm bent at a 90-degree angle, and weight resting in your forearm. Extend your other arm up toward the ceiling. Your gaze should be there as well.
  2. Using your obliques, pull your midsection up toward the ceiling as high as it will go and hold there until failure.
  3. Turn to the other side and repeat. Complete 2 sets.

11. Downward-facing dog

This yoga move requires you to support your own body weight, a very useful tool for everyday life.

Directions:

  1. Start in a high plank position, weight in your hands and feet, and your body forming a straight line from head to toe.
  2. Keep your hands, feet, and neck stationary and pike your hips up so your body forms a triangle with the ground.
  3. Pause here for 10 seconds. Repeat 2 more times.

12. Single-leg deadlift

Deadlifts are effective because they hit many of the muscles in your legs at once while helping you master the hip hinge.

Next time you go to pick something up off the ground, you’ll be happy deadlifts are a part of your routine.

Directions:

  1. Start with a dumbbell in each hand resting on your thighs.
  2. With a slight bend in your right leg, hinge at the hips and lift your left leg back while keeping your back straight. The weights should slowly drop down in front of you, close to your body, as you go. Stop when you can no longer maintain your balance or when your left leg is parallel to the ground.
  3. Return to start and repeat for 15 reps. Complete the same on the other leg.

13. Lunge with bent-over row

Combining a lunge with a row requires an additional level of balance.

Directions:

  1. Hold a dumbbell in each hand and assume a lunge position.
  2. Hinge forward at the waist to a 45-degree angle and then row, pulling your elbows up and back. Release and return to start.
  3. Complete 10 reps here, then switch your lunge and complete 10 more reps. Do 2 sets.

Takeaway

Functional fitness can help improve daily life by strengthening muscles to prepare them for everyday tasks and activities. Mostly using your body weight, this form of strength training is simple and safe for almost anyone.

If you have any injuries, you should consult a doctor before implementing this type of exercise.

Unlike other popular forms of strength training, such as CrossFit and bodybuilding, functional fitness is much more laidback, requiring less equipment and way less intensity.

The focus is on performance, not muscle size. The risk of injury is significantly lower, which makes it suitable for people of all ages and experience levels.

Kids need yoga. Our world is changing, and our kids face different challenges and commitments then they have in the past. There are many demands on kids’ time and pressure to do well and be successful at what they are involved in. This includes school, family, friends, sports, quickly changing technology and other interests. That leaves us with kids who have a lot going on as they try to figure out a way to balance it all. This brings us to the benefits of yoga for children.

Kids need to learn how to be able to work through these demands in healthy and responsible ways.  Yoga is a skill that can benefit all kids no matter what activities they are involved in or what their interests and abilities are. Yoga meets everyone at any stage and provides incredible extrinsic and intrinsic benefits.

The Super 7 Benefits of Yoga for Children

Yoga Increases Flexibility and Strength

Yoga also builds strength as muscles are worked in new ways. One of the many things I love about yoga is that it gives both adults and children the ability to create strength in their own bodies and minds without the use of other equipment. The act of holding a variety of poses and breathing can make anyone feel strong and powerful. Whether a pose is done standing, sitting, or lying down, it has its own benefits and can challenge various muscle groups. Being flexible can also result in fewer and less severe injuries. That is good news for kids involved in sport-related activities and other commitments outside of school.

 Yoga Improves Balance


Similar to flexibility, balance is another skill that decreases as we age. Everything from navigating icy sidewalks in winter to holding a tree pose works to maintain your balance.

Balance can be improved with practice and many yoga poses and postures incorporate different elements of balance. Often, your body’s balance naturally improves while practicing yoga without you realizing it. This is also true with children. In my experience, as kids balance in yoga poses their self-confidence increases as they feel their bodies grow stronger.

Yoga Enhances Concentration and Focus


Kids are part of a rapidly changing world. Their young minds are often over stimulated with technology and electronics. This means they are often used to getting immediate feedback from video games, tablets, or phones. This can make it very difficult for them to then actually sit, focus, and complete a task in school or at home. Yoga helps children practice concentration and self-control, which then enhances their focus and awareness.

Yoga Helps Kids Practice Being Present and Mindful
mindfulness for kids


Today, as many parents and kids rush from activity to another, it can be difficult to be still and appreciate the moment. It doesn’t start out like that for kids. Picture preschoolers noticing the shape of a leaf or the color of the sky as they dawdle home from the park. Sadly, many kids become accustomed to a fast-paced lifestyle until they do not know any other way.

There is much benefit to slowing down, unplugging, and being away from it all for a bit. A good kids yoga class can provide that. It begins with settling into the moment and focusing on breathing and the body.

Children can then practice engaging poses with games and end with a Savasana or quiet time. The end of class usually becomes the students’ favorite part while they lie still and “do nothing.” They know they worked their bodies hard, and this is a time to give back, be still, and reap the benefits of strengthening their bodies and increasing mindfulness. Being involved in a yoga class keeps the kids present, aware, and in the moment, which is a valuable skill to practice throughout life.

Yoga Boosts Confidence

Yoga makes you feel good, which increases confidence. I see this all the time in my kids yoga classes when children are able to master a pose they have been working on or see their flexibility and balance You can literally see them step out of the yoga class standing straighter with more self-assurance. They are also calmer, more poised, and confident in their abilities—not only in the next class, but throughout their daily activities.

Yoga Relieves Stress and Promotes Health
yoga for kids


Yoga is a physical activity that releases happy endorphins. When you do yoga, you feel good inside and out and you want to maintain that feeling. Breathing exercises in yoga help calm and center kids. This gives kids the tools to use when they are feeling overwhelmed, stressed, and anxious in life. The twisting, moving, inverting, and holding poses during yoga also improves the digestive system.

Yoga Helps Kids Develop Awareness of Themselves and Others


Everyone is unique and special in their own way, and we all come from different places and backgrounds. With yoga we celebrate and respect differences as we try new postures and poses. Kids enjoy working with one another in partner and group poses and achieving success together. Yoga is also about encouraging one another and promoting acceptance, trust, kindness, and empathy as they grow and learn together.

Let’s help give children the tools they will have throughout life. Teaching yoga to children helps benefit everyone physically and mentally, plus it is absolutely fun for everyone involved!

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